Canada may lift Czech visas once asylum process speeds up
The Canadian media is reporting that Canada will accelerate the administration of asylum-seekers' requests for citizens of the Czech Republic. That country and 26 others are now on a list of so-called "safe states" where the Canadians believe people are not usually at risk of persecution, unlike people in other parts of the world.
In the past, the Canadian authorities came to the conclusion regarding asylum-seekers from these countries that their requests were unjustified. Now authorities will be evaluating requests from citizens of those countries in a truncated procedure that will last between 30 and 45 days at the most.
This change to Canadian immigration policy is said to open the way for the visas now imposed on citizens of the Czech Republic to be lifted. Ottawa reintroduced visas in the summer of 2009, roughly two years after it had abolished them, due to high growth in the number of asylum seekers from the Czech Republic. The Czech Press Agency has reported, without citing a source for this information, that the asylum seekers were allegedly predominantly Romani people complaining of persecution and racism.
At the time, the Czech Government sharply criticized the Canadian step and also threatened to block negotiations on a trade agreement between Canada and the EU because of it. Speaking in Chicago this past spring after meeting with his Canadian counterpart, Stephen Harper, Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas said: "I considered it my obligation to correctly inform the Canadian Prime minister that unless the visa regime is changed, the negotiation of that agreement could encounter many difficulties and problems from the side of the Czech Republic, including difficulties with ratification in Parliament which are completely understandable for political reasons."
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